The changing face of Igboho and Kanu’s Fendi
The order day when security agents stormed the Ibadan home of Sunday Adeyemo, popular as Sunday Igboho, they probably planned it to be a double whammy for the Nigerian government. You know, a double victory.
A couple of days earlier, they had, in a successful, but controversial coup, re-arrested (some say kidnapped) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), and the founder of its militant wing, Eastern Security Network (ESN). So, what better week could they have than to also arrest Igboho, Kanu’s, recent equivalent in the Southwest?
Both men have the same mission. They say their agenda is to liberate their people from the fangs of injustice and inequality and marginalization. To achieve that, both want out of Nigeria. While Kanu seeks an Independent Biafra where honey would flow like a river, and poverty banished, Igboho seeks an Oduduwa Republic, which would be an Eldorado.
The Nigerian government feels otherwise. It sees both men as dangerous irritants. Having gotten one in the bag, Kanu, they went for the second one, Igboho. But they failed.
Igboho is the proverbial cat with nine lives. For the number of times Igboho and his associates claimed security agents came after him for an arrest, the agents failed in their mission.
One of Igboho’s spectacular escapes happened along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway a couple of months back. Igboho was on his way to Lagos for a meeting with Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Afenifere leader when he was, according to reports, accosted by a combination of security agents. They reportedly blocked his movement, and made to arrest him. He miraculously escaped that arrest. The agents denied there was any such attempt. But confronting us, as proof, later that day was a video of a parked security vehicle and a shirtless Igboho, accompanied by admirers and associates, marching along the express road.
Why he pulled his shirt off, nobody could tell. But stories emerged later that it was his “African magic” at work. The way it worked that day, they said, was like “look me see another.” Meaning that the security agents were looking at Igboho, but were seeing somebody else.
This day, then, when they carried “war” to his Ibadan residence, his African magic was at work. Igboho inexplicably slipped through their fingers. He simply disappeared. How he escaped it, nobody knows. It was much like the story of Kanu’s escape from the onslaught of soldiers who laid siege on his father’s compound, and forced him to jump bail.
The security agents, who missed Igboho, have tried to explain his escape. He escaped, they said, on hearing the exchange of gunshots between them and Igboho’s guards. How, and why, they did not case the place before moving in is a story for another day.
But stories have since been circulating of how the rampaging security agents saw so many pussy cats in the compound and, having heard that Igboho could turn into anything, including pussy cats, it is reported, they allegedly went on a killing spree of the poor cats and, even arrested one. Being us, it is not surprising that nobody has produced the bodies of the dead pussycats, or shown us the arrested one. Nigerians! We can lie! And we can make a joke out of anything, no matter how serious.
However, Igboho’s African magic is a selfish one. Otherwise, how come its potency did not extend to his guards, or even his wife? They were arrested, and or killed. According to reports, one of his closest associates withstood the whole of 48 gunshots rained on him, but was, eventually, butchered with machetes. Sad their native doctor thought only of gunshots.
Even then, the question I have been asking nobody, in particular, is: who stood there to count the number of gunshots since no bullet penetrated?
How, and from where did Igboho, suddenly, emerge to become the hurricane he is today? Unarguably, he is, in his category, the most influential Yoruba man alive today.
Until a few months ago, not many outside his environment knew him. Initially, he was described as a political thug. Some even called him a motor park tout. It was the sad era of the rogue Fulani herdsmen that brought him into national prominence. Like a hurricane, Igboho, suddenly, emerged as the number one defender of his race. He declared war on rogue herdsmen. He made it clear that he was not against every Fulani, or all herdsmen. His war of no return was against those who maim, and kill, and rape, and kidnap, and destroy farmlands. He was against those who brazenly claimed people’s ancestral land as theirs.
His war against them started in his community. He gave them seven days to leave, or he would flush them out of forests and farmlands and their residences. Igboho was ignored. They ignored him to their eternal regret.
He carried out his threats. The day he moved against them, he was like a folk hero. He was received as such. He was their fearless hero. Igboho destroyed houses and sent herdsmen packing. Their leader, Seriki, barely escaped with his head on his neck. But not so his houses and cars. He has since relocated to Ilorin, to the anger of not a few of Igboho’s supporters. They say the Seriki is a murderer. A kidnapper. And more.
Having succeeded in his first outing, he took off from there, like a thunderbolt to other Southwest states in pursuit of rogue Fulani herdsmen. He became the real deal. The fearless warrior. And overshadowed Gani Adams.
Adams, you remember, is the officially crowned lead warrior of the Yoruba – the Are Ona Kakanfo. Not many still remember him as the boss. For the Yoruba defence and protection, Igboho and the Amotekun are the in-thing. Adams and the OPC are fast becoming history.
At a point, Adams tried to re-assert himself. In an interview with a television station, he recounted when, and how he started. And his travails. But the vehicle has since moved. He needs to run to get on the bus again. Adams and the OPC need to repackage.
Igboho repackages everyday. From pursuing the rogue Herdsmen, he elevated himself to a freedom fighter, and Yoruba spokesman. He is the one, he says, who would wipe the tears off the eyes of the Yoruba. He has since added a couple of teeth to the fight for Oduduwa Republic – out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He became a secession fighter – in the mould of Kanu. Differences though.
He is in Nigeria. He gets on with a good number of the Yoruba stakeholders, even the Governors, and the traditional rulers. He does not call them names. Nor curse them. He does not call them idiots, or fools, or “efulefu”, or worse. He does not say their mothers were impregnated by Fulani men. Or worse. Once, when Igboho spoke out of tune about the Ooni of Ife, he tendered a public apology.
Having elevated himself to the status of a freedom fighter, he began to talk like one. He began to mobilise people. He began to move from state to state. He acquired bodyguards. And Special Assistants, and Spokesman. The crowds followed him.
The defender of the people, he held rallies. The rallies were successful. He had support from not a few people, including the Yoruba in the Diaspora. Once, when a traditional ruler denied him entry into his palace, he reportedly jumped the wall.
The ultimate rally was to be in Lagos – the melting pot of the Yoruba and Nigeria’s economic center. The Lagos rally was to be Igboho’s crowning glory. But he was warned not to. Even some stakeholders who usually supported him asked him to shelve it. Lagos is not Akure or Ado-Ekiti. Or Osogbo. Or even Ibadan. It is the melting point of Nigeria.
Behind their caution is the unprecedented destruction in Lagos during the #EndSARS protest. Igboho felt he had become the ultimate. His answer was: He insisted on the rally.
But “power pass power.”
Two days after Kanu was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria, Igboho got the message. If it could happen to Kanu, a British citizen, it could happen to him too. He shelved the rally. But he had so mobilised and so sensitised people that the plan had gone beyond him. Many people “eat” from such rallies. So, one Yoruba group insisted the rally must go on.
To cage Igboho, security agents paid him a visit at an uncivilised time. The visit was at his Ibadan residence. They missed him. But not so his foot soldiers and guards. And the madam of the house. There were two fatalities. Mercifully, not seven, as was first reported by the Social media. In Nigeria, these days, when two people are killed, you heave a sigh of relief, and thank God they were not more.
The security agents, also, descended on his luxury cars. A G-wagon, a Mercedes Benz S class and more. Why the vehicles became subjects of interest and destruction is what one hardly understands. One thought they were on a mission to arrest and harvest the weapons which intelligence report, they said, led them to Igboho. Not the vehicles. Was the destruction anger at missing Igboho? Perhaps? Or, anger at the luxurious life Igboho is living? Plausible.
If so, one wonders why Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture, did not address a Press Conference on Igboho’s luxurious life. In the case of Kanu, the Minister left more serious issues to talk about Kanu’s designer Fendi wears. How did that address the issues at hand? It was like one pursuing a rat when one’s house is on fire. That was a low. But I digress.
Sure, the security agents harvested an uncomfortable quantity of weapons at Igboho’s, but they were not enough to wage a war on even a kindred. The worrying aspect, however, is how Igboho was able to stockpile such quantity of arms. What were they for? Were they legal? Does he have a license to own and/or keep them?
He has, expectedly, denied the ownership of the weapons. And accused the security agents who invaded his home of planting them. Igboho is playing the victim, and has quite some support and sympathy from his home base.
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has backed him to the hilt. He has chided the Nigerian State for invading Igboho’s home, and asked that Igboho be apologised to, unreservedly, and publicly. Just as he has chided Nigeria over Kanu’s re-arrest. He says Kanu was kidnapped by the Nigerian State. Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, who has been quiet since after the death of her husband, Yinka, spoke up too. She asked that Igboho be left alone. And so has Afenifere.
From his hiding place, Igboho has not kept quiet. He is thinking money. He has sued the Nigerian state to the tune of ₦500 million. For good measure, it is reported that, at least, 100 lawyers, of his Yoruba race, have indicated their interest to defend him and the others, pro bono. Soyinka says the FG will be embarrassed in court, explaining that Igboho committed no offence. But the FG is celebrating their feat on Kanu and Igboho, even though the later is not in their custody yet.
And Igboho is boasting. He says he is not in hiding. He says he is in his Ibadan House. True? And he boasts that if 1,000 Policemen are sent to arrest him, not more than 100 of them would go back alive. Even the 100, he said, would be alive only if they have spiritual powers, perhaps, the type he has. He, also, has an unsolicited advice for them. They should come with barrows and shovels. One can guess what for.
However, from whichever angle one looks at it, the sad incident at Igboho’s residence has changed the rhythm of the music. For him, It would never be the same dance step. His place, perhaps, another would take.
Check out the effect of his absence on the Lagos rally. Of course it held, but it was the least successful of all the rallies in the region. His absence took the shine off the rally. So did the alleged, shooting to death of a 25-year old woman, not 14 years, as was initially reported, mar it? It shifted attention from whatever was said at the rally. And so did the photograph of the Osun River goddess who took to her heels when the Police used water cannons on the protesters.
Some people insist Igboho pushed his luck too far. They say he became very talkative. Perhaps. They say he should have called off the Lagos rally earlier than he did. Perhaps. They said he should have been more careful after Kanu’s arrest. I agree. Once Kanu was arrested, Igboho ought to have known he could be next. They say he became boastful too.
Months ago, when the immediate past IGP invited Igboho, he brazenly told those who came to invite him to ask their boss to invite the headships of Boko Haram, Rogue Herdsmen, and bandits before inviting him. A number of people supported him on that. For, indeed, they said, that is the crux of the matter. And that is the expectation. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Not a few people have wondered how anybody could say, or ever imagine, that both Kanu and Igboho are more dangerous to the survival of Nigeria than, for example, bandits and Rogue Herdsmen. Let’s not even talk about Boko Haram. Those ones are the masters of the game.
But look at this: Bandits have gradually torpedoed education in the North. Just look at Kaduna.
This other day when bandits went to a Leprosy Centre and kidnapped nurses and a one-year old baby, I felt Nigeria has hit rock bottom.
As I write this, about 300 of our children, kidnapped from their schools, are in their custody. Yet…
But back to Igboho. He has lost the magic. The mystery around him is gone. The Directorate of State Security (DSS) has declared him wanted. From that day, he became a fugitive of law. He is not likely to parade “anyhow” again.
He would always watch his back. When he speaks, now, it will be from hiding. His tail has been cut. But no big deal.
During the President Olusegun Obasanjo era, Gani Adams was a fugitive at some point. On arrest, he was thrown into prisons. His release was, reportedly, negotiated. On regaining his freedom, he calmed down, brushed up, improved himself educationally, and began to dine and wine with Kings. The ultimate was when he was installed the Are Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land by the Alaafin of Oyo. That’s packaging. Or, has he led the Yoruba in any “serious war” since then?
Igboho, this is Nigeria. Very soon it will be over. Something else will happen, soon, and nobody will remember this ever happened. Be a good student of Adams. And all shall be well. Believe me.
Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source (Magazine). firstname.lastname@example.org
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